Ben White and Albert Sambi Lokonga are pencilled in for their Arsenal debuts against Brentford while Bukayo Saka will be on the bench.
Arsenal kick-start their Premier League campaign with a trip to newly-promoted Brentford. Mikel Arteta will be reflecting on the mixed bag of a pre-season before choosing his preferred starting lineup. Apart from a few injury problems, the Gunners have a strong enough squad to choose from.
In pre-season Thomas Partey injured his ankle against Chelsea, and will miss the next 3-4 weeks of action. Rob Holding also pulled out of the Tottenham game with a knock, and the English centre-back will be missing from the opening day.
Replacing Partey will be new signing Albert Sambi Lokonga, who has been impressive during the pre-season. However, if the Arsenal manager chooses a more conservative approach, Mohamed Elneny might be in the frame for a spot alongside Granit Xhaka, although it does look like the Belgian might get the nod.
Ben White will also make his competitive debut for Arsenal against Brentford. The former Brighton star will replace the injured Holding at the back and partner with Pablo Mari. Since the beginning of his tenure as Arsenal manager, Arteta has tinkered with the formation, earlier preferring a three-man defence.
He has since transitioned to a back four and signed White to replace David Luiz due to his ball-playing capabilities. He will begin the Brentford clash in the same manner and have White and Mari flanked by Kieran Tierney on the left and Calum Chambers on the right. Bernd Leno is certain to start in goal, as Arsenal do not have any other quality alternative in their ranks at the moment.
Xhaka, as iterated earlier will hold on to his place in central midfield after a summer of uncertainty. It will be interesting to see how he combines with Sambi in midfield, although the duo started against Spurs. A good performance for the Belgian will likely keep him in the lineup for the next crucial fixtures against Chelsea and Manchester City.
The theme of the pre-season has been Arsenal fans worrying about Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and his stuttering form in front of goal. The striker failed to score during the entire pre-season, and Arteta was on hand to address the issue.
The Arsenal boss said, “Since he came back, he looked in the right mindset, and he’s trying to put last season, which was difficult for everybody and not just for him, for many different reasons, and go back to the level that he can achieve. Because he knows, and we know that with his level, this team can achieve much better thing.”
Moving into the final third of the pitch, Arteta has multiple options to play around with. Owing to what we saw in most pre-season games, it seems like Nicolas Pepe has found a clear place in the manager’s lineup. The Ivorian will start on the right-wing and hope to form a good partnership with Chambers at full-back.
Bukayo Saka returned from his holidays after an extended break and could well be on the bench. Many have been calling for him to be included in the starting lineup due to the lack of real options on the left-wing, but Arteta might wait until the second matchday to give him a starting berth.
With Saka on the bench, Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang will keep his place on the left flank, with Alexandre Lacazette set to take up the central striker role. Emile Smith Rowe will look forward to wearing his new No.10 shirt and start behind the strikers as the chief creator.
Arsenal Predicted XI: Leno; Chambers, White, Mari, Tierney; Sambi, Xhaka; Pepe, Smith-Rowe, Aubameyang; Lacazette